Actor. He is best remembered for his role of 'Sir Guy of Gisbourne' in "The Adventures of Robin Hood" (1938), and for his role of 'Sherlock Holmes' in a series of movies with actor Nigel Bruce playing 'Dr. Watson' from 1939 to 1946). Born Philip St. John Basil Rathbone in Johannesburg, South Africa, to Edgar Philip Rathbone, a mining engineer, and his wife, Anna Barbara, a violinist. In 1895, his family was forced to return to Great Britain, when Boers accused his father of being a British spy at a time when Dutch-British animosity would soon lead to the Boer War. From 1906 to 1910, he attended Repton School, and discovered his interest in acting. Upon graduation in 1910, he worked as a clerk for a year at the insistence of his father, but soon quit to become an actor in a Shakespearean troupe in Stratford-on-Avon. In 1915, he joined the British Army, becoming a Second Lieutenant in the Second Battalion, Liverpool Scottish Regiment, and received the Military Cross for valor in action. In 1919, he was released from military service, and returned to his Shakespearean troupe, but after a year, moved to the London stage. In 1921, he made his first appearance on Broadway and in a silent film, "Innocent" (1921). For the next ten years, he alternated between London and New York, playing numerous stage roles, and in 1935, he played the villainous Captain Levasseur in "Captain Blood" (1935) opposite Errol Flynn, which gained him wide audience attention. He was twice nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar, for his role of Tybalt in "Romeo and Juliet" (1936) and for his role of King Louis XI in "If I were King" (1938), losing out both times to Walter Brennan. In 1939, he was teamed with Nigel Bruce, becoming an instant public hit in the role of Sherlock Holmes, which led to 12 additional Sherlock Holmes movies and numerous radio shows. Because his seven years as Sherlock Holmes had typecast him, he continued to make films, but never got a truly great part on-screen. In the late 1950s and for the rest of his life, he worked in a number of small roles in B movies, usually playing villains, including such forgettable films as "The Magic Sword" (1962), The Comedy of Terrors (1964), "Queen of Blood" (1966), and "The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini" (1967). He was also active in radio, playing the role of Sherlock Holmes from 1939 to 1946, and appearing in numerous television shows, including "Your Lucky Clue" (1952), and narrating the Walt Disney "The Wind in the Willows" (1949). He died in New York City in July, 1967, of a heart attack.
Bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson